Richard Nathaniel Wright (1908 – 1960) was an American author of novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. Richard's father abandoned his family when Richard was young and his mother, Ella, struggled to support her sons, particularly when she was sick. At one point Ella put her two boys into an orphanage. The adult Richard wasn't sure how long they were there for but he was clear he hated it. A few years later, 35 year old Ella had a stroke and her folks arranged for the boys to live with relatives. Richard was sent to his Uncle Clark and Aunty Jody. Again he hated being separated from his mother and insisted he be sent back to live with her (Ella was by then being cared for by her mother).
After a series of working class jobs, Richard Wright went on to become a professional writer. In 1940 he became the first African American to publish a best selling book, Native Son. Much of his literature concerns racial themes, especially related to the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, who suffered discrimination and violence in the South and the North. Literary critics believe his work helped change race relations in the United States in the mid-20th century.